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White Collar Defense & Investigations

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

  • Overview

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) outlaws the bribery of foreign officials. It is one of the fastest-growing areas in the field of white collar criminal investigations.

Both the United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have made FCPA enforcement a top priority. Consequently, the number of FCPA prosecutions has skyrocketed in the past decade.

The FCPA defines "bribery" very broadly. Any payment or gift that is made with "corrupt" intent is a violation of the FCPA. The FCPA does not establish a minimum monetary threshold, and thus even a gift or payment of modest value could potentially give rise to criminal and civil liability under the FCPA. Moreover, all corporations and businesses that have contact with foreign government units and officials are required to establish internal controls and adequate accounting practices regarding their foreign contacts. Failure to do so constitutes an FCPA violation.

One of the unique features of the FCPA is its extremely broad geographical reach. Although it applies to conduct in foreign countries and to contacts with foreign officials, the FCPA creates civil and criminal liability within the United States. Accordingly, any individual, corporation or other entity with a presence in the United States is subject to liability under the FCPA.

Godfrey & Kahn has extensive experience in counseling clients regarding FCPA compliance. Our attorneys are an invaluable resource for any company facing, or hoping to avoid, FCPA issues.

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